Here’s How the Cajuns Could Still Get a Shot at the Sun Belt Championship
The Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns are coming off of a convincing win against the Arkansas State Red Wolves. Despite their disappointing start in the eyes of many fans, they still have a chance to get into the Sun Belt Conference Championship game.
The Cajuns sit at fourth place in the Sun Belt West, one game behind Southern Miss and South Alabama, and two games behind Troy. Obviously, the Cajuns did drop the head-to-head against the Jaguars, but with their Thursday game in Hattiesburg against the Golden Eagles fast approaching, and Troy being an issue right after, there is a way for the Cajuns to snake their way up the rankings.
Here is the easiest way for the Cajuns to get a shot at the title.
Cajuns win all remaining conference games.
The Cajuns can still make the conference championship if they only beat Southern Miss and Troy, their next two opponents, but then they would need significantly more help from other teams losing than they already do.
The simplest thing to do is run the table against their conference opponents, which means that in addition to the Golden Eagles and Trojans, the Cajuns will have to take down the Georgia Southern Eagles and the Texas State Bobcats.
This would tie the Cajuns with Troy for the lead in the Sun Belt, meaning that even if Troy wins out, the Cajuns would hold the head to head matchup. That's where things get hairy.
South Alabama loses at least 2 of their remaining games.
South Alabama took down the Cajuns in heartbreaking fashion, but the entirety of their remaining schedule is against conference opponents. If South Alabama loses two of those games, and the Cajuns run the table, the Cajuns would be sitting at 6-2 and the Jaguars at 5-3, setting up the Cajuns to take sole ownership of the West, and set them up for a date with the top dog of the East, which for the time being is Coastal Carolina.
But that could change at any moment, the Sun Belt East is even more volatile than the West.
The Cajuns don't want a 3-way tie.
The West does have a unique situation in that if South Alabama only loses one more game this season, and the Cajuns win out, there would be a three-way tie at the top of the division where each team is 1-1 against the other two teams.
This triggers the Sun Belt's tiebreaker rule based on division record, in which case Troy would be the West division champion. Thus, it is imperative for the Cajuns that South Alabama loses at least two games.
Which two games do South Alabama have the highest chance of losing?
Well the good news here is there are actually three games I see the Jaguars having a chance to drop. Those are against Georgia Southern, a team that may also give the Cajuns a bit of trouble, Old Dominion, and the Golden Eagles of Southern Miss.
Georgia Southern are just a sneakily good team. At 2-2 in conference, they rank right in the middle of the East, but they're way better than their record shows. They're one of the only teams currently favored by ESPN against the Jags.
Old Dominion is a very talented and unpredictable team who stick around. Their record contains a close loss to the aforementioned Eagles of Georgia Southern, a good victory over the Red Wolves, and handing Coastal Carolina their only conference loss in convincing fashion. They could easily shock the Jaguars the way they did the Chanticleers.
The Southern Miss Golden Eagles, on the other hand, have a good shot against the Jags because of their gameplan. The Cajuns nearly beat South Alabama, despite suffering a number of self-inflicted mistakes, because they matched up well against them from a game plan perspective. Southern Miss' game plan is not very different from the Cajuns', if a bit more run-heavy.
Naturally, any team could win on any given Saturday, but if I was a Cajuns fan trying to cheer my team into the conference championship, I'd be watching these three teams pretty closely when they take on South Alabama
Of course, the Cajuns still have to do their part. In the words of Al Davis, "Just win, baby."